With all of our medical stuff taken care of we packed up on Tuesday and headed out about 1000 Wednesday morning. Our first night’s destination was about 220 miles away in Benton City WA where we had a site reserve at Beach RV right on the Yakima River. We hit a couple of mountain passes on the way but overall it was a pretty decent driving day. About 100 miles later we stopped at an overlook for lunch which was leftover Pork Picatta sandwiches (we had the pork on Tuesday night for dinner and it made darn good sandwiches as well). We pulled into Beach RV about 1600 or so and drove right into our reserved site 44. Wandered up to the office to check in then down to the river edge to sit awhile and have a beer. Once that was done we finished setting up for the night…which was pretty easy as we didn’t have to unhitch…then headed into Benton City where we ended up eating at the Palm Tavern. We had a nice Alaskan Pale Ale which was really more of a red ale in color…Neil had a bacon cheeseburger in honor of National Cheeseburger Day while Connie had Fish and Chips. She had leftovers which we made a sandwich out of for the next day’s drive.
Along the way we got a couple of photos of a valley we were passing through as well as a shot back towards the west looking at the east side of the Cascade Mountains which contain Mount Ranier, St Helens and the other peaks we saw from Graham.
We stopped by the Selah Cliffs for a bio-break and to grab a few photos since it was a scenic place. First up is the Redmon Memorial Bridge that the freeway passes over…the semi on the far left of the frame just entering the bridge gives you an idea of how tall this is off the ground. Connie was glad she didn’t know how far down it was until after we passed over it.
He also got a nice shot of the Selah Cliffs themselves…these are on the order of 500 or so feet high above the valley floor.
He snuck this shot of Connie working while he was taking the photos above…between a couple of hours work Tuesday night and her answering important student related emails during the two travel days she came up with a total of 7 hours of work she handled during breaks.
And finally here’s a shot of where we stopped for lunch.
He forgot to get a shot of our site at Beach RV…but it was one of the nicer places we have been this summer. However, he did get several shots down by the Yakima RIver at the south end of the campground…the first is looking to the right (upstream with some vineyards across the river and the second looking south across the river.
Getting up early Thursday morning we headed off and without further ado arrived here in Boise where we were staying until Saturday morning. We went up 3 pretty steep mountain passes on the way over here in northeast Oregon but didn’t see any good places to stop for photos…hence there aren’t any. We’re staying at the Gowen Field National Guard base; they have a 6 site full hookup back in campground…and it’s only 10 bucks a night. Score!! Dinner was a pizza we had picked up from Safeway…it wasn’t nearly as tasty as the ones we get from Walmart…which although store bought are better than most delivery pizzas you might get.
Friday morning we got up early and headed off on a double Bird Byway Drive thing…the first one was around Lake Lowell at the Deer Flats NWR and the second was up the Snake River Canyon for views of the 11 islands in the river that are part of the NWR. Stopping by the visitor center we took the short nature walk…but nature wasn’t cooperating much as it was really windy…up in the 20 knots or so range. We did spot many hundreds of Barn Swallows and managed to get a few halfway decent shots. Darn those little suckers are fast; they fly really low and change direction about every 30 milliseconds it seems like. Neil shot well over 200 frames of them but it was mostly a matter of point, shoot, and hope you got it…out of the 200+ he only kept around 25 and none of them are really stellar shots. Still, I gotta go with what I got.
We also spotted an immature Bald Eagle, a couple of Red Shouldered Hawks, and a couple of American Kestrels but were unable to get a shot of any of them…they were all fleeting glimpses as they disappeared into heavy cover or else were on the side of the road and we couldn’t stop.
We ended up giving up on the lake portion of the drive as it was really windy; the winds were way less strong in the canyon and we saw more wildlife…the only thing we saw around the lake itself was this yearling Ring Billed Gull.
After that we broke off and headed up the Snake River Canyon portion of the drive; here are a couple of shots of the river itself…the islands are part of the NWR…as well as the rim on the north side of the canyon. This is more of a wide valley with really steep sides than what you typically think of as a canyon…further upriver about 125 miles or so we would have been in the Hells Canyon of the Snake River…this is more of a really deep and relatively narrow canyon much more similar to the Grand Canyon. The canyon itself is probably 3 or 4 miles wide for most of it’s length along here. North the river runs through the plains awhile before it gets to the southern end of Hells Canyon…which is actually deeper from the top of the mountains to the river than the Grand Canyon is, it just doesn’t look as deep since it has mountains along most of it’s length instead of the plateau top that the Grand Canyon has and you’re driving along the shoulders of the mountains instead of along the top of the plateau at the Grand Canyon. We’ll get up there someday when next we come out this way.
Along the way on the river drive we spotted a pair of ducks then shortly afterwards a whole flock of waterfowl…there are probably 15 different kinds of ducks, coots, geese and what have you in this shot but it wasn’t really detailed enough to pick most of them out other then being different.
We stopped for lunch at a place with a boat ramp named Map Rock where we spotted this female California Quail…characterized by the forward curling black comb on top of the head.
Shortly after lunch we stopped by the actual Map Rock itself…which is a rock with Indian Petroglyphs carved all over it…basically it’s 10,000 year old graffiti. Neil crawled up on top of the rock so Connie could take his picture as well. He’s pointing downstream at one of the darned hawks that came back out as soon as we left the area…it was a Red Shouldered.
That about did it for our day…by this time it was 1400 or so and we headed for home…Connie has to take a shower and get all dressed up since Neil called Date Night for tonight. We’re going to this place named Cottonwood Grille…they’ve got lots of local bison, elk, lamb and other game as well as seafood and some local Idaho wines.
Tomorrow we’re headed off into Utah for an overnight stop in Brigham City just north of Salt Lake City then heading onwards on Sunday to Moab where we’ll stop for 8 days. Along about Tuesday or so we’ll figure out where we’re headed next…we had a discussion last night and amazingly enough shook up the jello again…at this point we’re thinking that we’ll head about 100 miles east from Moab to Grand Junction CO and stay there a couple of days then pop over to Aurora CO just east of Denver, spend one day in downtown Denver (this will miss all of the flooded areas and the related damage/disruption then head east for 2 days to Junction City. We’ll have to make sure that the weather will be good the day we leave Grand Junction as we have to go over the 11,000something foot Vail Pass and the second highest highway tunnel in the world at 12,000something feet to get past the Rockies and we definitely don’t want to be heading up those steep grades in bad weather.